Teaching assistants face the axe

Posted by Eteach Blogger on Jun 6, 2013 in In the News |
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Government ministers have started talks to phase out teaching assistants in England to save £4 billion a year, but heads and parents are likely to oppose the move.

There are currently 232,000 teaching assistants, three times the number in 2000.  The last government introduced them to ease pressure on teachers and give them more time to prepare lessons and mark work. Phasing teaching assistants out would enable schools to hire more teachers and reduce the DfE’s budget, and would probably take several years.

The think-tank Reform questions the value for money of teaching assistants and claims that their impact on educational outcomes for pupils is ‘negligible’. Its research director Thomas Cawston said: “We found that while they were supposed to help teachers, they were actually being allowed to take classes themselves. Not being prepared or qualified to so those classes, they were not doing a very good job. The money spent on teaching assistants would be far better spent on improving the quality of teachers.”

The individual attention they can give to children is valued by parents and headteachers, and Labour MP Meg Hillier opposes axing them: “I fear this is just another excuse for cutting services with no regard for the real impact on the lives and opportunities of some of the neediest children.”

How would axing teaching assistants affect you and your pupils? Share your views!

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Pete King
Jun 7, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Its the ultimate insult really and in fact deeply insulting, when to be a selected TA currently, you have to effectively qualified to degree level for this role. I have a Foundation Degree in Learning Support from the University of the West of England. I’ve been doing the job now for 7 years.
Also, it would be interesting to see how many Qualified Teachers there are in the TA role. I’ve seen lots and been beaten to jobs by some. I wonder how they feel.
What a country we live in. A complete disgrace…

Helen Auckland
Jun 7, 2013 at 6:46 pm

I agree with this move by the government. There are some good Lsa’s but they are few and far between. Plus pupils are not getting first quality education while being taught by people who are not qualified.

Jun 7, 2013 at 6:50 pm

What the think tank has said is really that TAs shouldn’t be teaching classes which is right. TAs aren’t qualified to teach and shouldn’t. But to get rid of them all is unjust. TAs play a huge part in children’s education and it would be nice for ministers to get some real life experience if teaching and the need for TAs. In summary teachers professionalism should be protected and only qualified teachers should be allowed to teach but have the support of a TA should not be removed.

Jun 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Mr Cawston may have failed to note that many teaching assistants, like myself, are qualified teachers – either nqts looking for their first jobs or retired teachers who want to work with children without the pressure a class teacher is under for all the other teaching responsibilities. Recently the govt has been pushing for ta staff to obtain qca recognised training which is aimed at eventually becoming teachers by a route not requiring a subject degree. It is insulting to say we have no impact. I work with migrant children who have little or no English and with pupils who have special needs such as autism and hearing impairment. Without extra adult help in the classroom the teacher could not effectively help these children and the other twenty plus children to achieve their full potential.

Mr Pegg
Jun 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

This is outrageous! If they actually went into a school and saw TA’s like we have they might think twice about a decision like this. They have such a positive impact on teachers and children alike. With growing class sizes to 30+, can you imagine teaching everyday on your own with a kaleidoscope of abilities? Lesser abled, SEN, G&T; they would all suffer as a result of this being actioned.

Jun 7, 2013 at 7:06 pm

I don’t think this is a good idea at all, not only do I no a lot of teaching assistants but I do think they help the teachers an pupils a lot especially the ones that so one to one on reason an help on maths an other subjects

Jun 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Axing Teaching assistants is not the answer. What we need to do is get TA’s to properly ‘assist’ teachers. Too many times I see TA’s being used in ineffective ways, such as sorting out book bags and sticking work into books. Teachers need to give these kinds of jobs to the children that are old enough to sort out themselves and ‘manage’ TA’s by giving them more valuable tasks such as setting and marking homework, making meaningful obervations of what and how children are learning, working with small groups of children that need some kind of intervention or challenge and supporting the teacher to create an inclusive learning environment by ocassionally leading a small class circle time while the teacher has some release or creating resources for the classroom to support learning picked up from the observations they have made.

Anna Maskell-Taylor
Jun 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm

I am appalled at the proposals made by the government! I have worked in education for many years in various roles that include special needs support assistant, teaching assistant, HLTA, peripatetic inclusion mentor and intervention manager. Within those roles I have effectively supported a vast number of pupils either on a one-to-one basis, in a small group or as part of the class. My support was beneficial to the children as well as the teachers/professionals I was working with.

How can the government justify taken away the support that teachers and children receive? Without teaching assistants teachers will be under even more pressure! They won’t have the time to attend to the daily ups and downs of children. Who will take care of the pastoral care?

Most teaching assistants are highly qualified professionals. I have a degree in education! Does that not count for anything now?

I would like to see Mr Gove teaching a class of 35 children, some having behavioural difficulties and another having learning difficulties. How would he deal with that? How would he deal with teaching when a child in the corner has just been sick and another is dragging all the books of a shelve?

Personally, I feel that the government is degrading the work that we teaching assistants have undertaken in schools to support children and helping them achieve to their full potential. It is like they are saying – OK YOU HAVE DONE WHAT WE WANTED YOU TO DO – WE HAVEN’T PAID YOU MUCH – BUT NOW WE REALLY DON’T THINK THAT WHAT YOU DO IS THAT EFFECTIVE – SO NOW WE ARE GOING TO GET RID OF YOU ALL.

Well – Thank you very much!

Anna Maskell-Taylor
Jun 7, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I am appalled at the proposals made by the government! I have worked in education for many years in various roles that include special needs support assistant, teaching assistant, HLTA, peripatetic inclusion mentor and intervention manager. Within those roles I have effectively supported a vast number of pupils either on a one-to-one basis, in a small group or as part of the class. My support was beneficial to the children as well as the teachers/professionals I was working with.

How can the government justify taken away the support that teachers and children receive? Without teaching assistants teachers will be under even more pressure! They won’t have the time to attend to the daily ups and downs of children. Who will take care of the pastoral care?

Most teaching assistants are highly qualified professionals. I have a degree in education! Does that not count for anything now?

I would like to see Mr Gove teaching a class of 35 children, some having behavioural difficulties and another having learning difficulties. How would he deal with that? How would he deal with teaching when a child in the corner has just been sick and another is dragging all the books of a shelve?

Personally, I feel that the government is degrading the work that we teaching assistants have undertaken in schools to support children and helping them achieve their full potential. It is like they are saying – OK YOU HAVE DONE WHAT WE WANTED YOU TO DO – WE HAVEN’T PAID YOU MUCH – BUT NOW WE REALLY DON’T THINK THAT WHAT YOU DO IS THAT EFFECTIVE – SO NOW WE ARE GOING TO GET RID OF YOU ALL.

Well – Thank you very much!

Lynne Dyson
Jun 7, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Most teaching assistants do a valuable job. The support they provide to often less able children enables them to access what is being taught and make progress. In a primary setting, they also help set up the classroom, prepare resources, change reading books and prepare displays. They are often an invaluable resource that enhances the quality of a child’s education and are paid far less than a teacher.

Laura J. greco de Bove Moses
Jun 7, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I have been working as a TA (albeit voluntarily to gain experience with a view to obtaining paid employment for September) at the primary school my Son attends.

I have been responsible for many things, including but not limited to one to one work and particularly phonics intervention with the younger children.

Teachers at the moment don’t have enough time to do everything. If TAs were phased out, those children who require extra attention both inside and outside the classroom during the school day would ultimately end up having their specific needs ignored and they would disappear into a system which will dissolve into chaos.

TAs all over the UK work very hard for a much lower salary than the class teachers. This is to be expected as they certainly shouldn’t be taking classes themselves. Maybe the odd lesson or two assuming they are HLTAs is acceptable from time to time.

Having said that, additionally there would be no extra activities set up for children, those children with special needs would not have the TAs who work with them daily and in many schools, there are bright and colourful displays of the childrens’ work. These displays wouldn’t exist. The teachers don’t have time to do them. That is something specific to the TA role, alongside many other duties.

Aside from being a trained TA, from a parent perspective, I would oppose the phasing out of TAs. My Son has personally benefited from having extra help when he fell behind in Year 1. This wasn’t delivered by the class teacher but by the TAs working alongside her.

Jun 7, 2013 at 7:47 pm

There are many more Teaching assistants because the government introduced the Foumdation Phase. Classes went from having a low number of TA’s or possibly none to having set ratios of teachers / TA’s to pupils. This is when the explosion happened. I cant remember the exact ratio but it was around 6 or 7 pupils to 1 adult. Some classes had 4 or 5 adults in which is crazy, especially in some unsuitable classrooms. This cost a fortune and as usual the government started to backtrack by saying that the ratios were only advisory etc etc. Funding was then reduced. What a debackle. Play has its part in the classroom, but classes should have more structure and less of this free choice. I’ve been around long enough to know that the Foundation Phase craze will come and go. Many older teachers have seen things come and go and purposely dont teach the foundation phase as is recommended, they use their experience of what works and what doesn’t and the foundation phase doesn’t. While Im on the subject of TA’s who seem to qualify in no time at all as a level 2, its a joke. Bring back the 2 year NNEB where the students had to do observations/essays every week with a final exam at the end, notthese joke courses that people do today. Hope this post creates lots of debate as it is meant to !

Jun 7, 2013 at 7:57 pm

I have been a teaching assistant and a teacher A teacher first, then an assistant and back to teaching again. Do you need a teaching assistant? I honestly believe that you do, not to teach the class but to make the teaching easier in so many small ways. I can not see how the government study resulted in teaching assistants being seen as negligible help? Whilst it is possible to teach without an Assistant it makes life much, much harder. I taught before there were TA’s and it was exhausting. I stayed at school until gone 6 pm most nights and then worked at home. I gave the job up, maybe that makes me a bad teacher?. The teaching assistant can deal with the minor matters that interrupt teaching and leave the teacher time to teach. I worked as a TA and I helped with smaller groups, I know I made a difference and I have worked with TA’s and I know they have made a big difference too. What utter rubbish from the government again and of course the only reason we would get rid of TA’s is to save money. Teaching is still very hard and I work 4 – 5 hours most nights when I get home but having a teaching assistant helps me to focus on groups in the classroom, to teach and to organise the classroom. I might decide to have another career change …..but I wouldn’t get a job as a TA because their won’t be any!

Helen Milliner
Jun 7, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I agree that for the most part, having teaching assistants teach classes, provides fewer good outcomes for children. I do however wonder if this ludicrous suggestion also includes removal of support for statemented children and those on School Action Plus and School Action. Are the government offering to pay extra teachers to support these needy children whilst the main teacher teaches? I think not. Are they offering to bring class sizes down to 25 or even 20 to bring us in line with many of our European partners? I think not. I for one would go with out my weekly non-contact time rather than do without the skilled help with individual children that our teaching assistants provide. Perhaps this is really what the government want?! Are they trying to remove our entitlement to planning time by the back door?
A primary school teacher.

Esther Russell
Jun 7, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Hi, I am a teaching assistant and a very good one at that. I have just passed a Childhood Studies and Development Foundation Degree with a first and have been excepted onto my third year. My aim is to teach in early years. The knowledge and training gained from my experience as a Teaching Assistant has given me the opportunity and experience needed to undertake this degree course. Within today’s school settings there are a lot of children with special needs that have now been main streamed. This was something proposed by government to given all children the opportunity to have equality and the same equal rights to education (it was also put in place to save money). Without Teaching Assistants, what will happen to these children? In my opinion I do not think that people realise the extent and amount of work that Teaching Assistants do for the very little pay that they receive.

Jun 7, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I have heard some crap in my life but this tops it all. Most of the pupils I have worked with in schools would not be in mainstream school if it was not for Teaching Assistants what about all the pupils with autism and special learning needs

Jun 7, 2013 at 9:10 pm

Once again a Government clutching at straws, just to cut services. The Education system is in a bad way as it is, if Teaching Assistants are “axed” then it will make the situation worse than what it is. They already plan to re-vamp the S.E.N. register as it is, this year. What next?
It just goes to prove, that this Government is totally out of touch with how things actually are in schools!!!
A re-think is of the most importance.
Some would say LOOK at cutting back on OFSTED intervention,,,,,,,reason, because just to accommodate these officers when they’re doing inspections cost money!!! They certainly don’t put them up in Budget Hotels. Enough said!

Jun 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Rudiculous ! Why is this government so he’ll bent on destroying the British education system .. Every child needs support, guidance and motivation. Teachers and teaching assistants work together to help students in their work but also social skills and time management skills. Not all students learn the same way and not all young people come from a stable family background . Will this government not understand that each school is its own microcosim of society and all those amazing people are in their to do the best for each student.

Jun 7, 2013 at 10:32 pm

i find it very strange or is it mere coincidence that in the same week that the govt announces a fast track 2 year route to a teachers qualification for ex service personnel they are also announcing that a review of teaching assistants finds them poor value for money? the investigation recommending that they be phased out and thus create vacancies for more teachers.
Teaching assistants are just that, they assist and enable a teacher to make progress in lesson, there is no possibility of the work they do being measured against any criteria because their role is of deterrance, they stop problems from occuring. So how can a problem that did not occur because of their action be measured?
I know of schools and academies where non qualified assistants are teaching without supervision because it is financially beneficial, as is the process of yearly contracts for NQT’s and assistants whereby they recieve a years work and are then “let go” in favour of another new assistant or teacher with the same yearly contract.
There is too much political interferance in education and the virtually constant changes due to financial pressure is leading to a large number of potential teachers being put off and going elsewhere with the curent recommendation of the gradual phasing out of assistants I can see a situation developing where teacher recruitment will fail to keep pace with vacancies and the school system will be in crisis opening the door to many more fast track schemes.

Nigel Ball
Jun 7, 2013 at 11:12 pm

In secondary schools most if not all TA’s have degree or higher and the way our school uses us is to help assist the teacher, we do intervention groups, Math & Literacy. What the government needs to understand is that the increase in SEN pupils has rocketed, it is intense work with helping pupils be able to access the curicullum which is what TA’s do. Those schools that get TA to teach whole classes are miss using TA’s and that has distorted the figures and findings. We have pupils at year 9 that only have cognitive ability of P scale and some that find it difficult to go into classrooms let alone achieve academically. The government should charge individual schools with justifying what they do with their TA’s and how effective they are rather than assume all TA’s must go!. My wife is also a TA and whilst she is a mum she has studied above and beyond what is required to do the job and treats it as a career not as a convience to help with child care, this is such a negative assumption without surveying all schools who use TA’s to find out the true picture. PLUS it would be political suicide for the government to make 220,000 TA’s (working mums) redundant as they would then might have to claims tax benefits so where is the sense in that – Their is a chronic shortage of teachers and they are leaving the jobs daily so how are they going to help by adding to their stress levels !!!!!!

Jun 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm

You total right I am a ta in I local school and provide a valuable service to children and teachers
This is another thing that proves this government is blind to the world in lives in !

Jun 7, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Nigal I would not have put it better myself. There is no point cutting from one area only to make another area worst!!!! I feel that all the government do in trying to fix one thing make another problem and that is because they never get to the route and put a more structured thing in place.. If they did go ahead give it a couple of years and then they would be raising the topic of the figure of working mom/parents has dropped and there again it all starts!!!!! Like Nigal said look at the real route problem and individual schools not using TA’s in the right manner!!!!!!! I do not work in education but have young children plus im working mother working in the unemployment sector so want the best all round!!!:-)

angharad mardon
Jun 8, 2013 at 12:59 am

My opinion on this is firstly the government were the ones to begin with to introduce a great need for people to train to be a teaching assistant, therefore if funding is the issue once again this plan was not yet again like many of their ideas not fully researched the need or expense of creating the role. I have been a ta for 12yrs and trained for 4yrs because of being approached by a job centre government employee of the opportunities in this area of work. Are they going to consider my commitment to this role and the training I put years of effort into like many emplyees I know training towards at the moment, which I must point out is currently still funded by the government! They are still spending on a role they consider a waste of funding! Secondly I have read all job descriptions for all levels of teaching assistants written by local government and at a higher level actually have included in them we are expected to cover flasses while the teachers are absent as well as plan lessons, admin and other teacher related responsibilities. We have recently taken a huge cut in wages but these job descriptions read the same as before our wage cut. It makes me angry how the government has little thought about the impact on the lower ability pupils that statistics clearly prove have better results since the implication of more teaching assistant support. Cut their bonuses and freebies and we would double the amount they expect to save on cutting a valuable resourch needed for our children to strive to get the best education possible. Again a case of keeping the upper class with the best outcome and lower class with the least, equality for all is what teaching assistants bring to the education service and you cannot put a price on that!

Dawn Smith
Jun 8, 2013 at 1:20 am

I think that reducing the number of TAs would be madness. The support they provide to pupils, teachers and the school is invaluable. They are mostly trained, where they are likely to have spent more time in the classroom than a teacher who has completed a PGCE. Speaking as a teacher of many years, I can say my time at University taught me little about teaching and I learned far more about what being a teacher really was by actually doing the job. Teaching Assistant watch teachers and learn how to do the job in an apprenticeship style of training. The pastoral support they provide for pupils is mostly second to none. In the school I worked at there would be anarchy if TAs were reduced in number, we moan that we don’t have enough as it is! And like the previous comment, making these people redundant, would mean they would have to claim benefits, they mostly get paid a pittance anyway. Teaching assistants who take classes should be HLTA, where they have had to provide evidence of many standards to enable them to gain the status.

Kath Camron
Jun 8, 2013 at 2:43 am

Speaking from the viewpoint of a stressed and hard working Primary Teacher -what now…..when will the ridiculous government we have stop ‘hammering’ the teaching profession and leave us alone to do our job. And what a difficult and stressful job it has become at the moment, only to make the workload increase even more by getting rid of teaching assistants -whatever next!? I value my ETA support tremendously to aid me with producing resources, work with individuals and groups of children and a whole host of other things. Without her support I wouldn’t be working from 7.30AM -8PM, Id be working till 2 in the morning!!
For goodness sake Mr Gove -talk to people who KNOW what they re talking about ‘on the ground’ like the majority of hardworking teachers/assistants before making these stupid decisions that you seem to deem appropriate. You have no idea what you are talking about and come across as simply a ‘posh school boy -buffoon’. Get a grip, back off and let us get on with the job we came into the profession to do years ago when it was an enjoyable job to be in!

Paul M
Jun 8, 2013 at 3:13 am

I’m not sure which schools Nigel has looked at but my experience is that few TAs have degrees and most have little more than GCSEs. I’ve not found them useful educationally in the classroom although I’ve valued the presence of an extra pair of eye (and hands) in controlling some more troubled pupils. Without far more training and significantly more commitment (from most) they are never going to make a massive impact but, for the salary, what can you expect?

Nigel also pointed to the increase in the number of children assessed with having special educational needs as being a reason for increased numbers of TAs. This rather sidesteps the question of why the UK has 2 to 4 times the number of children with SEN compared to other similar countries.

Jun 8, 2013 at 5:55 am

Having been a teacher and seeing teaching from the inside I am afraid I can only take a realist’s view of this proposal. TA’s were introduced to help teachers cope with oversized classes. 30 is an oversized class – you won’t catch private schools with classes of 30. Twenty in a class is enough if you want to get around the whole class, even less for a practical subject. I never had a TA in my classes – any of them – Art – the school would not budget for it, but I managed, somehow, for thirteen years, preparing lessons, delivering, marking, washing up after the kids, no support at all, and so forth – until the agents of the Government decided my face didn’t fit and I was out. But I have seen, on supply, how useful TA’s can be. The problem is though that the hidden agenda in education since the late 1980’s has been the deconstruction of state education, which continues apace today with the introduction of the so-called ‘public-private’ Blair Academies. This latest measure to cut TA’s will impose a further burden on teachers in state schools come inspection time and give the Government more excuses to fail teachers, close schools and/or ‘turn them round’ into the semi-privatised academies, which are dubious anyway, just look at the scandal which has engulfed Quintin Kynaston under their super head with her erstwhile high profile, political stamp of approval. Politics are the bane of education in this country and they have done immeasurable harm. But the real cost to society are all the young minds which are now being failed by the system of targets and tests which leave so many by the way. I would imagine the truancy rate since the imposition of the National Curriculum has gone through the ceiling, I doubt if the true figures will ever be known. But these children will not disappear, they are our future, possibly the ‘no future’ scenario sung about by the young musicians of the Thatcher era – the writing was on the air waves if not the wall even then.

Carol Smith
Jun 8, 2013 at 5:57 am

I agree. TAs are invaluable and helped me save my sanity on several occasions. The pupils value them and in my experience they are professional, career-minded and many of them go on to train to be teachers.

J Turner
Jun 8, 2013 at 6:22 am

I teach SEN classes in a state mainstream secondary school. The difficulties I have to deal with seem to increase year on year, not just low literacy levels but other special needs such as autism, ADHD, speech and language problems etc. and many of them are not able to work completely independently. I would find it very difficult to ensure the progress of these pupils without the assistance of our excellent support staff in the classroom. A good teaching assistant is an invaluable resource. The government needs to put money into better training for teaching assistants, as too many schools do not value them, employ them on the lowest possible salary and then give them absolutely no training.

Tom Christopher
Jun 8, 2013 at 6:30 am

To phase the TA’s out would be political and social suicide , in this day and age children have more need to have mentor, someone who can ease a shy child or indeed one who feels left out back into the classroom fold. Let teachers teach..and let their assistants take the worry out of the class-room into a more quiet, and less pressurised atmosphere.

There are children who a naturally disruptive, in the main this could well be due to some problem at home, this needs addressing by an individual that can take the time on a one to one basis, to settle the child in. There are others who a shy by nature..and this to can be difficult and can interfere with teachers schedules.. again this would have a long term effect on the whole class. We see governments now demanding better results from schools throughout the UK, surely by removing TA’s will effect the long term results for the schools overall, the idea of removing TA’s is a backdoor “u” turn on any school performance, so informing the nation their ideals are less than their ideas to improve education.

Jun 8, 2013 at 7:35 am

HLTAs are allowed to take classes as they are qualified. Where TAs are used as adult intervention, results have been good. How can one teacher teach 30 children effectively? They also help with displays and doing the 20 odd things teachers aren’t supposed to do. I taught my TA how to level work and analyse data so we used to do it together in one form entry school. They should be qualified to do the job so part mums don’t just think of it as a child care job.
The children also trust them to talk about concerns. I think they play a very important role now. There is a shortage of teachers and many leave the profession because of issues like this one. So will there be two teachers in a class which means more pay for two teachers rather than pay one TA? Will ther be smaller classes so that more teachers will be employed rather than TAs? My TA could not believe all the hard work teachers did when she was a mum. Now she really appreciates our profession. But I don’t know what I would without that support.

T Ahmed
Jun 8, 2013 at 8:42 am

The government forgets, the teaching assistants enhance the learning of pupils who have a wide range of learning needs; by supporting the teaching staff in enabling the pupils to gain independence and participate fully in the curriculum and general life of the school. They Support those children who have learning or physical difficulties to work independently in the company of other children across the curriculum and support the teachers to develop a mutually supportive relationship with all teaching staff. Teaching assistants help pupils to gain access to the curriculum by differentiating instructions and resources. Assisting pupils to become better learners by discreetly prompting them to stay ‘on task.’
They Support for the curriculum and Support the delivery of the Literacy and Mathematics strategy along with other aspects of both the National Curriculum and the enhanced curriculum offered by the school.

Charles Biglin
Jun 8, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Teaching assistants may well be taking classes, as a qualified teacher my supply work has dried up as schools are using unqualified teachers (who are cheap), therefore why not cut out the middlemen (i.e. supply agencies) alltogether. I work as a gardener these days, as there is no consistent supply work.

Patrick Dehm
Jun 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Dear Nigel Ball

Please become the next education secretary!

Only a TA :/
Jun 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm

The profile, impact and role of TA/Learning Support staff is under-estimated.

Teachers do not have enough time to spend with under achieving pupils in an average classroom setting which has approx 29 + pupils.
I work in a ‘good’ secondary school and in a year 7 class there are 8 pupils out of 24 who require support throughout a lesson ( this is not just a matter of a quick ‘point in the right direction’ solution – these pupils need constant prompting and would not be able to access the curriculum or be independent in their learning if support wasn’t there for them) I would like to add that these pupils do not have a statement of educational need!

Each member of our team have either QTS/ Cert Ed or are very experienced staff with qualifications in most aspects of supported learning.

Schools have to use their support staff according to need and match staff to the area in which they are most effective to enhance teaching and learning.

If schools think they can do without support staff then they really do not understand how much pupils will suffer. That is the main reason for my response to the issues raised – the people making vital decisions should be going to lessons to experience for themselves just what is happening with pupils and how teachers are struggling to cope.

I’m worried as a TA/Learning Support for the future of pupils in need of supplementary support to access and participate in learning. The government needs to get its priorities in order – please talk to the people involved (teachers, Learning Support staff pupils and parents. I could go on my rant for longer – Think of the knock-on effect of pupils becoming disengaged – It’s quite scary and disheartening for all involved!

* Message to Michael Gove – Please ask the people who know – not the people with the budget – Why should it be about money? Children’s Future At Stake Here!
Rant over – for a short time anyway

Farhana hussain
Jun 8, 2013 at 9:44 pm

I agree with everything you have mentioned havin three children myself while still studying to be better at my job was an immense pressure. I too wrk at a primary school as a teaching Assistant we do interventions in maths and literacy, I Belive this is just an excuse to get rid!! Not thinking of how much they may need to pay out in tax credits!!!

Mary Jones
Jun 8, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Maybe what is required is a focusing in on the numbers of TA’s required to do one to one with SEN and similar pupils. Then some redirecting of funds into training some more teachers, who are adept and able to take a full class on their own. Perhaps there is a possible career route for some TA’s into teaching, where their skills would be more fully utilised as fully fledged teachers?

Mary Jones
part time violin teacher
previous teaching assistant experience

Duncan Ali
Jun 9, 2013 at 3:55 am

I hope Peter Blatchford realises that his research is being used to justify these cuts.

Jun 9, 2013 at 4:54 am

With all due respect, I believe that some TA’S do a better job than many teachers – particularly those who deal with children with special needs and are integrated into mainstream schooling. Paid peanuts for a job that most would struggle to do – many teachers are unable to comprehend the needs of those children who need this support – they must be kept at all costs.

Lisa Fox
Jun 9, 2013 at 7:42 am

Teaching assistants are essential to provide additional support for SEN and EAL children. They are a vital part of the school and worth their weight in gold in our school anyway!!!!!

Mrs McCarthy
Jun 9, 2013 at 11:10 am

Oh dear, if we have teaching assistants such as the above who can’t spell and also misuses “their” for “there”, then it’s a good job the government is having a rethink.

marc rayner
Jun 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm

I am a TA in a special school, and have been for 13 years. I’m shocked by this news, once again the government are getting it very wrong. We have a high number of TA’s in my school due to the varying degrees of SEN pupils that we have. We have children with moderate learning difficulties, children on the spectrum and many PMLD students. TA’s are needed to help each pupil achieve, it would be too much for a teacher to try and take an entire class of SEN students with no additional help. Plus the TA’s in my school wear many different hats, we do physio, we do personal care, we administer meds, can you honestly say a teacher would be able to do all of this? No, a teacher is paid to teach, and TA’s are there to enable learning and also do the other jobs. I would ask Michael Gove and the other ministers to take some time out and come look at schools, and see how beneficial TA’s are before passing judgement. Once again the government want to cut money from somewhere, here’s a suggestion, look at your own wages, and expenses and see what could be cut there, rather than taking away the careers of very hard working people who love their job, and have their pupils best interests at heart.

Jun 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm

just weed out the unqualified ones and leave is who are actually trained to do the job to do it! This way the TAs would actually be able to suppprt the children that need it without having to carry the unquallified ones.

Jun 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Nigel Ball
i like your wife have also trained hard to be a TA. i love my work. It is a shame that we have to worry about what the future holds when we are more than quallified to do the job. Good luck to her for the future x

Totally agree
Jun 10, 2013 at 4:34 am

I too am a TA in a primary school. I am NNEB qualified and also have HLTA status. I have managed a private day care nursery, worked in special schools and also with children who have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. I have received training for many different intervention groups. I work with children in class and individually. I also take small groups and occasionally provide cover. I enjoy my work and feel valued by the class teacher for what all that I do.
I agree that there are some TA’s who are not trained to a sufficient level, eg. NVQ tick boxes. These were introduced by the government when they decided that there were not enough TA’s to meet demand. I does not compare to the training that is undertaken to gain an NNEB and this is what needs to be addressed. Stop these agencies from providing the slap dash NVQ courses and ensure that all TA’s are able to gain full knowledge of child development and early years education. This will ensure that the education system has well trained Education Practitioners.

Jun 10, 2013 at 7:49 am

Firstly, and slightly at a tangent (I admit) I must address the remarks made by ‘Jack’ on 7th June.
I completely disagree that the Foundation Stage is at the center of the increase in TAs. The ratios Jack quoted were incorrect. For Reception classes (children aged 4 to 5 years old) the EYFS states the minimum adult to child ratio requirement to be 1 (teacher) to 30 pupils. Most schools, however, recognise the virtual impossibility of this scenario and choose to employ a TA for their Reception class. For Nursery classes (children aged 3 to 4) the ratios vary depending upon the qualifications of staff; where a teacher is present the adult to child ratio is 1 to 13. Most Nursery classes therefore having 26 pupils and 2 adults (1 teacher and 1 TA). Given these ratios it is clear that the Foundation Stage is NOT responsible for the increase in TAs.

Perhaps more likely was the introduction of the Literacy Hour, with its initially strict timings and restrictions: stating teachers had to remain with one guided group for the specified time (was it 15-20 minutes? I’m sorry I no longer remember) and ignore anything else that was happening with the rest of the class? I remember many schools panicking and rearranging TA timetables to ensure there was a TA present for each Literacy lesson.

Or then again perhaps it has been the introduction of countless intervention, catch-up and support programmes?! Many of which are run and planned for by TAs. Who knows? But what I can say is that the majority of TAs are worth their weight in gold. Phase out TAs? Have the ‘powers that be’ completely lost their minds? What they should be looking to do is restructure TAs’ payscales to include a much higher ceiling. Over the years the job of the TA has significantly changed. It now includes, expects, and in fact demands a much higher level of teaching, be this with small groups or one-to-one. Is this reflected, perhaps, in the renaming of the job from Classroom Assistant to Teaching Assistant? Mmmmm, I wonder.

I am glad to read that the majority of comments found on this page are strongly in support of TAs and the vital role they play in classrooms and schools.

Jun 11, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I, myself am I Specialist Teaching Assistant and am amazed by the latest news regarding TA’s!
What I would like to know is how will ONE teacher cope with a class of 30+ on her own when there will be children with all abilities and some SEN pupils??!!
We promote inclusion, so there can be a wide range of children in one class. TA’s are in place to support pupils to acheive there goals within the National Curriculum! We are not TEACHERS! And I did not want to be one, I chose to be a Teaching Assistant to help pupils (as I wish I had had one when I was at school!) and make there school life a happy and enjoyable one.
I am fully qualified and have done extra training, whilst working, in my specialisms.
Does the government prefer the idea of all the TA’s claiming benefits instead of being good role-models and working for a living?!!

Jun 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm

My son has one to one support with his maths from a fabulous TA + is now thriving. without her support + guidance he would be still struggling as his teacher has to manage 30 children. we need more TA’s if anything to make sure that our children get the much needed attention they deserve in order to reach their full potetial. In my day at school there was no such support. If there had have been more support staff I myself would have achieved alot more. jeep our TA staff the children need them.

3D Planning | experimentalteacher
Jun 14, 2013 at 5:27 am

[…] are looking at the opposing view’s debate. As I like to be topical we decided to take on the latest government initiative of scrapping all the TAs. I’d recently been pushing the idea of REAL points (Reason, Evidence, Analysis, Link) which I […]

Jun 16, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Michael Gove has finally lost all of his marbles! It is totally unfair to presume that all teaching assistants are the same! There are thousands of superb TA’s whose input has allowed many of our children to enjoy their education and achieve way and above their predicted grades. These ‘assistants’ deserve every recognition for their skills, experience and qualifications not to mention much higher salaries! However there are also ones who shouldn’t ever be let loose in a classroom and, like many of the previous contributors have already noted, seem to be in the job as it suits their family commitments! Maybe these ‘TA’s’ should be regraded as ‘classroom assistants’ leaving those with the ability & interest to become ‘teaching assistants’ and those with higher aspirations HLTA’s/trainee teachers?
I have worked in education for over twenty years initially as a classroom assistant then teaching assistant followed by HLTA specialising in secondary mathematics. Along the way I have worked in pastoral roles, pupil support, as an examinations officer, in education welfare and with pupils with SpLD to name but a few. I would like to think that the extensive experience I have gathered in this time has allowed me to provide the quality of teaching support to which all our children and teachers are entitled.
To take away quality teaching assistants would be a massive mistake so lets hope Michael Gove finds some of those missing marbles before it is too late.

Jun 17, 2013 at 3:49 am

I can’t believe that TA’s could be phased out completely in a few years, they are valued by both
head teachers and teachers because of their support, and that they can spend more valid time
with children that really need help.
I myself was a TA for 25 years and I know for a fact that teacher’s cannot see to all the children’s needs , they just have not got the time.
the government might save more money, but at what cost. I really do think the schools would be a lot worse off without TA’s, also what about adding to the unemployment. most of these TA’s depend on their jobs. Also what other jobs can women do when their children are at school.
Can I also say is this government on a mission to make more of the lower paid (and most TA’s are low paid for what they do) unemployed.

Graham Tyler
Jun 27, 2013 at 3:25 pm

My son is blind without any light perception , he is in a mainstream school and supported by a TA without who would mean he would need to be in a special school costing the goverment far more than it dose to pay her wages.

May 13, 2014 at 7:36 am

How funny it is to read some of the comments on this forum. I have been a teaching assistant for 6 years, have 8 ‘o’ levels including English and Maths, 2 ‘A’ levels and an NVQ 2 in supporting teaching and learning. I have to say that in my experience, I have a better knowledge of maths and spelling than many of the teachers aged under 30 that I have worked with. I often have to discretely tell them they have made a mistake .Several of them had to retake their Maths GCSE several times and have relied on an education with spellcheck to help them out. Don’t get rid of TAs, improve the standard of teachers!

Jill Davies
Jan 31, 2015 at 4:03 pm

In our High School level 3 Teaching Assistants have been selected for redundancies, but level 2 and level2 assistants are not in line to be made redundant. Does anyone know whether this is fair selection?